Friday Faves

HAPPY FRIDAY! This calls for a celebration, does it not? And what better way to celebrate the end of the workweek than with a list of some favorite things? (Ok, yes, I know that better ways to celebrate the end of the workweek generally involve happy hour, but it’s 0700 and I’m fighting off a cold. So, we shall focus on other things!) With no further ado, here are some Friday faves:

The fact that this is going to be a long weekend: Real talk,y’all: I basically live for the weekend. So when a long weekend comes along, guess who has two thumbs and is totally doing the Kermit the Frog happy dance? This girl!

 

 

Alba Botanica face cream: I’ve been on a long and arduous journey (ok, it wasn’t all that long or arduous in real life, but let’s pretend like it was) for good facial moisturizer that isn’t laden with freaky shizz like phtalates and parabens. Adding to the fun, a lot of natural products — including Aveda, which I used to love — contain wheat protein. No bueno!

It took a lot of searching around Amazon to find a gluten-, paraben- and phtalate-free facial moisturizer, but, just as I was starting to get frustrated…EUREKA! The good folks at Alba Botanica came through in a pinch! I ordered it up and have been using it vigiliantly since the day it arrived.

And I must say, this stuff is awesome. It moisturizes fabulously, smells amazing, and it doesn’t make my skin break out. This is a big deal, since my skin is a total hater and basically searches high and low for reasons to break out. (Hormones? Zit party! Hard workouts? Zit convention! Change of seasons? Zitapalooza!) So, this find is a serious keeper for yours truly.

 

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Verily Magazine: I’ve written before about how many women’s magazines, which claim to be all about empowering us, just wind up making us feel like total and utter crap.

The Photoshopping is ridiculous, and the content is often a) vapid, and b) largely about how to be both skinnier and better in the sack. This “Get thinner, have the perfect tush, and be a total sex kitten” message pushes the idea that there’s a huge gap between how you are and how you should be, and that how you are now is largely inadequate. It pisses me the hell off, and that’s putting it politely.

Enter Verily Magazine: a women’s magazine that focuses on “celebrating the best of who you are” — and that’s who you are now, not who you’ll be after undergoing one of those heinous Tracy Anderson metamorphosis things. (Have I mentioned that I really don’t like Tracy Anderson? Because sweet fancy Moses, y’all, I really don’t like her. This article, followed by this one, really sealed the deal. But I digress.)

Unlike other women’s mags, Verily never, ever airbrushes or Photoshops its models. Not only that, but it specifically chooses models who look like normal people, as opposed to the emaciated waifs you see on the runway. (Am I the only one who often feels compelled to throw food at bone-thin models as they strut down the catwalk? I’m pretty sure I’d get kicked out of a real fashion show because I’d just start throwing quinoa and asparagus at them while yelling “Eat! For the love of all that is holy, woman, EAT!”)

Adding to the awesomeness, Verily actually offers articles that are directed toward womens’ brains, not their lady-parts or their abs. There are no “How To Blow His Mind in Bed!” or “Get The Perfect Tummy in Two Weeks!” articles here, friends: instead, there are pieces on culture, lifestyle, and fashion — as well as awesome articles that focus on issues affecting women around the world, such as the rise of rape warfare in Egypt and the increasing prevalence of sex trafficking in the United States.

One of my friends here in DC interviewed the founders of Verily, and the awesome Huffington Post article that ensued can be read here. These ladies are the real deal!

 

New yoga books:  I wrote yesterday about my love of DIY, at-home yoga, and I just invested in two new books on the matter — sooooo, I might be bouncing in my chair in sheer anticipation of  getting my grubby little paws on copies of Yoga as Medicine and Insight Yoga. I’m incredibly, absurdly excited for both of these books!

I’m a big believer in using alternative medicine/holistic practices like yoga to help complement Western medicine, and I’m fascinated by the intersection of the two forms of healing. The idea that yoga can be used to complement the effects of modern medicine is awesome, so I’m chomping at the proverbial bit to dive into these books and absorb as much information as humanly possible. A total geek-out will totally ensue. I can pretty much guarantee that you’ll be hearing about it next week!

 

With that, some questions for you:

What was the highlight of your week?

Do you have plans for the weekend?

What are you most looking forward to over the weekend?

Yoga, Sans the Class

Fact: I love yoga. Like any red-blooded, alternative medicine/eastern philosophy-inclined Colorado native, I’ve been interested in yoga since I was a teenager.

When I was 17, I jumped at the chance to take a yoga class at the local Y. However, since this was after we’d moved to rural Pennsylvania from my beloved Colorado, I was the only person who signed up. It just was me and the instructor — a hippie-rific older gentleman who seemed sorely out of place in north-central PA — for all of two sessions before the Y cancelled the class due to lack of interest.

At that point the extent of my yoga instruction learning to sit in lotus position and belt out a resounding “om,” but that was about it.

I wound up picking up yoga DVDs and books in the years that followed, and after a few years of doing DIY yoga and the occasional free class at the university gym (both when I was in Israel and then during grad school), I figured I was ready to hit up some legit classes. Once I was back in DC, I figured I’d find a studio and get my asana on.

Well. As it turns out, I really don’t like going to yoga classes. I went to a Bikram studio, where I schvitzed a river while the other women — all of whom appeared to be 50 pounds skinnier and a few million dollars wealthier than me — merely glistened. I tried free classes at Lululemon, which were filled with Judgy McJudgerson types who’d throw shade at anyone using stability blocks for support. I went to a Vinyasa studio where the other women would do a little “more enlightened/flexible than thou” smirk while doing handstands on their eyeballs. I even went to one class at my gym during which the instructor looked at me, arched one eyebrow in annoyance, and said, quite loudly, “Oh. You’re new.”

Yes ma’am: I’m new here, and I’m never coming back.

Namaste

After all this, I realized my most enjoyable yoga classes had been the ones I took in Israel. Which were conducted entirely in Hebrew. Which posed a significant challenge for someone who was just starting to learn Hebrew. Which meant that if I was more comfortable in classes in which I barely spoke the language, the classes in the U.S. weren’t my cup of tea.

So, you can imagine my delight when I discovered online, do-this-at-home resources like YogaDownloads. I’ve been all over that stuff like white on rice, and while I do love a lot of the classes, I’ve also learned something about myself and my yogic style, if you will: I’m slow.

I’m like the brontosaurus (I know, I know: apatosaurus is the correct name, but so help me God, I’m sticking with the terminology I know and love!) of yoga, in that I move at a lumbering pace. My yoga flow is more reminiscent of refrigerated molasses than anything else. Half the time when I do to yoga classes at home, the instructor is calmly telling me to go into down dog, but I just got into up dog, and I haven’t even done plank yet, and then I’m all,

“HolycrapthisladyisfivestepsaheadofmeIcan’tgetcaughtupaaaaagghhh!”

https://i0.wp.com/420furs.org/images/1310996683812387278.jpg

 

It’s SO not zen. Knowing this, I decided to go even more DIY than I was before: I pulled out my old yoga books, which talk about the purposes and benefits of each pose, and then conduct my own little impromptu class based on what I think my body needs at the moment. If I’m feeling nervous, I do some heart-openers. If I accidentally get glutened, I do poses that help soothe GI distress. It’s totally ad-hoc, and I love it.

In addition to the fact that I’m not trying frantically to keep up with an instructor, I’m also really diggin’ the fact that the “class,” if you can call it that, goes for exactly as long as I want or need it to. If I’m pressed for time in the morning, I bust out a few warrior sequences before breakfast. If I’m increasingly sleepy before going to bed, I do a few minutes of Hatha sequences before I zonk out (and probably drool on my pillow).

I think this makes me the most non-yogic yogi ever, but obviously this gig works for me.

Do y’all do yoga? Do you do it on your own, or do you take classes? What do you like best?

{Currently…}

Good morning, y’all! Hopefully your Thursday is off to a good start, or at least a tolerable start. 😉

I haven’t done a Currently post in a while, so I figured I’d hop back on that bandwagon. So, without further ado, a list of current goings-on:

Currently…

…In heavy rotation on my iPhone:

Radioactive, The Other Side, My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark, and Come and Get It (I know I should be totally ashamed by the fact that I find a Selena Gomez song so effin’ catchy, but really, that ish is pretty awesome).

…Awaiting with baited breath:

The arrival of the royal baby. Much like the Selena Gomez situation, I know I shouldn’t care about stuff like this — but whatevs, I kind of adore Wills and Kate. Add to that the fact that I’m a total Anlgophile, aaaaand…royal baby obsession it is! Also: please be a girl, wee regal fetus.

Tabloids can pretty much never be trusted, so who knows whether this is actually true or a pile o’ BS.

…Reading:

Mind Over Medicine by Dr. Lissa Rankin, and I’m loving every second of it. This is an amazing book, and I can’t recommend it highly enough! (I’ll do a separate and more detailed post on this awesome tome once I’ve finished it, just because it’d be kinda ridiculous to do a full post on something I’m 40% of the way through.)

…Craving:

A yoga session followed by a big green smoothie, grilled chicken with avocados, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies (WHY OH WHY did I take them to work?!), and as much summer fruit (nectarines, cherries, grapes, berries, etc.) as I can consume.

…Excited About:

The fact that my one week of post-op rest is finally up, and I seem to finally be recovering from the epic glutening earlier in the week — which means I can start being active again! I’m going to take it easy today with some yoga, and tomorrow I’ll return to the gym (during which time I’ll shamelessly catch up on Scandal).

I’m also seriously, insanely excited about our impending vacacation to Colorado later this month. I haven’t been home in over 18 months, and I’m craving Colorado time like woah. I can’t wait to see my parents and my brother, hang out with old friends, visit extended family who I haven’t seen since the wedding, hike like a madwoman, eat my weight in gluten-free goodies that haven’t yet made their way out East, breathe mountain air, and celebrate our anniversary with a trip to Elway’s and a hike around the Flatirons.

…Watching:

Our DVR has gotten surprisingly sparse lately, which is really saying something considering how many shows we have set to record. We’re all caught up on North America — as a tangent, I’d like to note that a show prominently showcasing the West is slightly problematic for someone like me, who happens to be desperately homesick for that part of the country — and are now on a rampage through the original seasons of Arrested Development. Second tangent: that show is amazeballs. I know I’ve said that before, but it bears repeating.

So, that’s a wrap! I hope y’all have an awesome day — here’s to it being almost Friday (why, oh why, must every weekday basically just be a countdown to the weekend?)!

What are you up to lately?

What are you looking forward to the most?

What are you listening to/watching while at the gym?

Article Round-Up: June 30-July 6

Good morning, everyone — happy Saturday! Hopefully everyone’s weekend got off to a good start; here in muggy DC, I’m chillin’ with my numero-uno homie, Aleve, and some green tea.

As it turns out, my blissfully pain-free state on Wednesday morning was largely due to the narcotics they’d given me in post-op recovery. Blergh. That’s the bad news — the good news, though, is that now things are largely under control with NSAIDs, which is a huuuuuuuuge upgrade. Give me Aleve over Percocet any day, y’all. Narcotics, while effective, are SO not my friends. As I’ve learned recently, they give me weird, unwieldy side effects like hyperactivity, wanting to clean ALL THE THINGS, nightmares, and nausea. It’s no bueno! As it turns out, I’m an OTC and/or herbal remedy kind of gal.

Anyways, I’ve got more rest and recovery on tap for the weekend. I’m reading Dr. Lissa Rankin’s mind-bogglingly awesome book, Mind Over Medicine, and I’ve been devouring it like it’s a tray of really good GF brownies. I fully intend to park my tuchus on the sofa and read  the crap out of it later today. I also want to see This is The End with Brandon, since we both laughed hysterically when watching the trailers — and laughter, really, is the best medicine.

With that, I hope everyone has a fabulous Saturday!

There aren't enough days in the weekend, quote

 

Health & Wellness

NPR: Coke Changed Caramel Color to Avoid Cancer Warning; Pepsi in Transition

Greatist: Building an Injury-Free Body

Girls Gone Sporty: Hiking 101: Tips for Hitting the Trails

Mind, Body, Green: The 5 Healthiest Summer Fruits and Veggies

 

Stress Relief & Life Management

Lissa Rankin: 5 Tips to Help You Recover from Perfectionism

Huffington Post: 3 Yoga Moves for Anger: Poses to Help You Calm Down

Greatist: 24 Tricks to Help Survive Hot Summer Nights (Without A/C)

Mind, Body, Green: Is Suppressed Anger Making You Sick?

Regret Free Life: A Sure-Fire Way to Make Better Career Decisions

Huffington Post: 5 Signs That You’re Ready for a Career Change

 

Gender Issues

Slate: In the Coast Guard, Sexual Assault Gets Washed Away

Huffington Post: Millennial Women See the World as More Gender-Equal than Previous Generations

Atlantic: What the Rising Number of Single Dads Says About Fatherhood in General

Goldiblox ‘We Are the Champions’ Video Features Girls Who Crush Gender Stereotypes

 

Humor & Warm Fuzzies

Huffington Post: Abandoned Dog Ringo’s Story is Going to Give You Hope

Buzzfeed: 26 Invaluable Life Lessons, According to Sloths (#24 made me nearly die of cute overload)

Happy Place: 15 Brutally Honest Text Message Aut0-Replies That Would Significantly Improve Your Life

Buzzfeed: The 17 Most Epic Pieces of Presidential Fan Art Ever

Buzzfeed: 9 More Embarrassing Spelling and Grammar Errors

Grown-Up Saturday Morning Cartoons/Article Round-Up: April 29 – May 4

Good morning, y’all — I’m a bit fuzzy-brained this morning after staying up waaaaaaay too late reading, so I’m nursing a behemoth cup of java as I write this.

For me, at least, there are few things more enjoyable than getting totally sucked into a book. I love it when I can’t bring myself to put a book down, even as my eyelids start feeling like they’ve been weighted with anvils. (Eventually the need for sleep wins out, but this is basically the only context in which I’ll fight off the desire to head out to dreamland.)

The only problem with this situation comes when my body decides it wants to wake up early, in spite of having stayed up late the night before. Habits die hard, y’all.

Anyways, this week’s article round-up is below; grab a beverage, read, and enjoy!

 

Health and Fitness:

MindBodyGreen: 5 Ways to Naturally Reduce Inflammation in Your Body

NYT: The Problem of Breast Pain in Women Who Exercise

NPR: A Sleep Gene Has a Surprising Role in Migraines

MindBodyGreen: How to Shop for Safe Supplements and Vitamins

Huffington Post: May Superfoods in Season This Month

 

Stress Relief and Life Management:

Blissful Healing Arts: CAUTION: Work In Progress, or The Problem With Perfectionism

Huffington Post: Common Stress Relief Tricks: What Works and What Doesn’t?

Greatist: Yoga Isn’t Just Good For Your Mind, It’s Good For Your Genes

 

Gender Issues:

Feministing: The Cross-Dressing Kurd Men for Equality

Atlantic: Marissa Mayer’s Potentially Revolutionary Paternity Leave Policy

Slate: Stephanie Stewart, Amy Clark, and Others Shine a Light on Pregnancy Discrimination

Atlantic: The Benefits of Men and Women Being Friends, Even if One is Married

 

Humor and Warm Fuzzies:

NPR: From Battlefield to Boston, Marine Comforts Bombing Survivors

Buzzfeed: Dream Job Alert: Surrogate Gorilla Mother

StudentBeans: 22 Geniously Defaced Textbooks and Exam Papers

Buzzfeed: The Most Ironic Things That Have Ever Happened

A New Look And New Workouts

Aaah, Tuesday: the roughest part of the week is over!

As you can tell, I spent some time last night updating the look of this here blog. (Omigod, blog templates are about to become the new way I take out my urge to redecorate! I used to re-arrange and redecorate my room every few months when I was growing up, and something tells me that blog aesthetics are becoming the new room rearranging. This could be dangerous. Or fun. Or both.)

I also added a recipe page, so between that and the new look, I’m quite happy with the way my little renovation panned out. I’m a satisfied cowgirl blogger!

(Side note: I am, however, totally flummoxed by the SEO plugin I’m trying to use. If any of y’all have experience with the Yoast SEO plugin, I’d greatly appreciate any insight/helpful hints you might have about how to make this thing work. I can’t even download or install it properly — argh!)

Anyways, because it’s been raining/drizzling for over 24 hours now, I’ve had a brief respite from the soaring pollen counts. While rain can be gross, the fact that it washes out the pollen is a serious silver lining. I’m going to take advantage of this rare moment and go running this afternoon, so we’ll see how my lungs hold out.

Springtime Allergies

And, speaking of getting the ol’ heart rate up, I’ve been excitedly doing some new workouts over the last week. I’ve been getting bored — woefully, painfully bored — at the gym lately; watching rom coms while on the elliptical has been a huge help, but then I got all panicky when I saw that I was running low on movies I hadn’t watched yet. Eeeep!

In the interest of preserving my short supply of unwatched movies, I started reverting to my old habit of listening to music while chugging away on the machines — and not surprisingly, time draaaaaaaaaggged on. Even with my favorite workout tunes pumping in my ears, time felt like it was moving as fast as a herd of arthritic turtles through a flood of molasses.

Bored Breaking Bad

Have I mentioned that I never exaggerate?

Anyways, I knew I needed to mix things up a bit. And what’s a nerdy gal to do in such a situation? Research.

Now, I have a confession: I love research. When I was in grad school, I used to love getting up early, filling my preposterously big travel mug with coffee, and hitting the library so I could do research. I’d sit there for hours, listening to Miles Davis on my iPod, sipping java, and looking up articles…it was heaven, folks. However, I know that, for the vast majority of the population, this would basically be the seventh ring of hell. This is why I’m incredibly weird. But I digress.

Nerd Girl Problems

Anyways, I’ve found that I really like the content of various group fitness classes, but I don’t like a) having to leave home, deal with traffic/public transportation, and factor in travel time in order to schlep out to a class, and b) I always feel like a total buffoon in group fitness classes. (Ergo why I loved this cartoon.) When a gal is both a total spaz (*raises hand*) and pressed for time (*raises other hand*), group classes are often a no-go.

Upon being confronted with this workout conundrum, I hopped on teh interweb to see if there are any good free fitness videos that I could use instead of going to a group fitness class — and I was thrilled to find two awesome fitness resources: Fitness Blender’s channel on YouTube and YogaDownload.

I’ve sampled a few of both their offerings, and suffice it to say: I looooooooove them.

I tried Fitness Blender’s Cardio Kickboxing and Beginner Kettlebell workouts, and they’re fantastic. First, I appreciate the voice-overs — they’re calm, clear, and they generally sound a lot better than an instructor breathlessly saying annoyingly peppy things like “You’re doing AWESOME!”

Annoyed GIF

I also really like that they demonstrate the next set of moves before transitioning into them. I can’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve had to rewind workout DVDs because I miss half a section while trying to figure out what in God’s name the instructor is doing. For a spaz like myself, this is a huge help!

I Love Lucy Confused
This is what I usually look like during workout videos.

As for YogaDownload, this is a huge boon for me: I love yoga, but I’ve gone through about 10 different DVDs in an attempt to find one that I like. YogaDownload, however, provides the ultimate resource. Not only do they have every imaginable kind of yoga, but they allow you to sample a class before buying it — so if the instructor drives you batty, you figure it out long before you hit the download button. I also appreciate that they have different time length options for each class. I start getting irritated with classes longer than 30 minutes, so the 20 and 30 minute options are, IMHO, absolutely awesome.

 I’ve tried their Yoga for Back Pain and Evening Wind-Down classes, and they’re both fantastic. The back pain class worked wonders when my back was achy last week, and the wind-down class was just what I needed after a long day at work. I’ve got Yoga Sculpt and Yoga for Strength on deck, and I’m all kinds of excited to try them.

So, all that is to say: if you’re looking for a fun way to mix up your fitness routine without leaving the comfort of your own home, I highly recommend both Fitness Blender and YogaDownload. (And, to quote Kip from Napoleon Dynamite, I love technology. Ten years ago, neither one of these would have been even remotely possible. Huzzah for progress!)

With all that in mind, tell me: What’s your favorite at-home workout routine? Do you ever get bored while you’re doing cardio at the gym? If so, what’s your boredom remedy?

Have an awesome day, y’all!